(1310-09-17) A New Assignment
Summary: Somewhere in the Brotherhood's monastery in Siovale, a young Cassiline gets a surprising new assignment.
RL Date: 20/09/2018
Related: Occurs a day before Je Suise Tres Desole

September 17, 3010 — The Cassiline Monastery, Siovale

The sounds of ringing metal filled the practice yards of the monastery, presently occupied by boys little older than ten years of age and most of them taught, for the first time, how to properly wield a blade. Today, he found himself part of the small body overseeing the initial bits of training for the newest crop - not the first time he had done this for the outfit he served, but it always filled him with both a sense of accomplishment and melancholy. While he would never change anything about his life in the last seventeen years, he couldn't help but see himself in some of them - especially the angry ones who didn't want to be there, but had nowhere else to go.

Fingers toyed with the pair of large marbles he kept in his hand, letting them clack against one another as they spun around his palm with every deft motion. It had been a suggestion by a colleague, to shut down his mind and assist with meditation so as to not exhaust himself. Had he been less unusual, there wouldn't be a need for it, but his ability to remember everything he saw, heard and experienced, while helpful in the field and advantageous on certain levels, also had some serious consequences he couldn't let himself succumb to. The lack of rest made even the sharpest mind brittle and that was definitely the last thing he needed. He kept the brunt of his focus on the youths milling about the yard, however, already deciding what to write in his daily report:

Initiate Fiscarde's style is an aggressive one but that isn't surprising, all accounts say he's a bully. Cassiline training is the last thing he needs but I'm assuming his parents are relying on us to teach him some discipline at the least and keep him from sullying the family name at the most. Initiate Ballard is adept at defense and taking punishment, but he also came from an abusive environment - too early to tell if he's a danger to those he's trying to protect once he's triggered. I should probably talk to Rolande about his conditioning—

His free hand suddenly snapped up, the gesture lightning-quick, fingers ensnaring a pale wrist before the appendage could touch him. A single violet eye turned over his shoulder to regard the shadow that had snuck up behind him.

The elderly man who had silently approached him smiled faintly, deepening the lines on his features. "It will never stop being surprising to me," he began. "How you could manage to split yourself in different tasks at once while looking to be fully engaged with just the one." How he managed to even observe it and knew it to be true was testament to the fact that his powers of observation were as sharp as ever. He inclined his head to regard the much younger man. "How are you, Nico?"

Nicolas' expression shifted from guarded to surprised. "Maurice," he said, releasing the older man's hand. "We weren't expecting you back for two more days. How did it go?"

"As well as it could, given the circumstances." While long retired from active service, Maurice Beaufort, the Prefect's premier aide-de-camp, retained the lean look and confident stride of a man who lived a long life of service; save for a fringe of white that encircled his skull at the base, he had lost his hair a while ago, and his dark eyes remained sharp and alert. If age had slowed or diminished him, it didn't show, and by all accounts, those who made the mistake of testing it seriously had been maimed or worse.

The older man pivoted on his boots, gesturing for the younger Cassiline to accompany him. "Follow me, Nico. We need to talk."

The short journey took him to the office adjacent to the Prefect's and much like any other space kept in the Brotherhood's stronghold in Siovale, it was a spartan one with little by way of personal effects, save for a few artifacts here and there to reflect the older man's travels while he served ducs and princes until his retirement from active duty in 1305. It was dominated by a desk built from sturdy oak, varnish work darkened by time and age and leaving it almost black under the dim light of the lanterns that filled the small room. Maurice collected them when he could, from every place he had visited, to mark every time he had to save a ward from some manner of danger or another. He wasn't a man prone to recording his exploits, the aging veteran wasn't the journal-writing sort, but Nicolas had suspected for a while that this was his way of reminding himself of the necessities of constant vigilance.

The two men took up some of the few seats in the room, with the older taking up the larger one behind his desk. "I don't think I have to tell you," Maurice began. "About what happened in Beziers."

"Everyone's heard of what happened in Beziers," Nicolas replied. "An entire branch of the de Mereliot family was wiped out in a night while they were conducting celebrations for the Festival of Lights. The chaos started just before the Marquise was about to give her speech, guards ushered her and her family back to their stronghold but she and her husband were abducted with their children killed and their bodies left in the courtyard. I believe it was the steward that found them."

"It seems your propensity to remember everything you've seen and heard's no exaggeration," Maurice remarked dryly, though the line of his mouth suggested faint approval and bemusement. "It should assist you well in your future endeavors."

The younger Cassiline's brows furrowed. "Sir?"

"You're young," Maurice continued. "You're sharp. You have what tantamounts to some kind of strange magical memory and you're fast. It's been three years since you've finished your tenure with the former duc de Chalasse, three years you've been helping us train the new classes that come through our doors, but while you've been indispensable to the new recruits, the Prefect's decided to return you to where you belong. And I'm in agreement, Nico. You can't spend your prime in the monastery." His eyes narrowed faintly. "Not when there are foreigners so willing to massacre whole branches of great d'Angeline families."

Realization dawned over Nicolas' features. "You're sending me to the survivor," he said slowly. "Doesn't she have a Cassiline already?"

"She does, but in light of her extraordinary circumstances, we decided to exchange you both. Florent will be recalled, and you will travel to Marsilikos tomorrow."

Extraordinary circumstances? The younger man fell silent, leaning forward with his forearms braced against his thighs and his fingers linked together. Somewhere in the depths of his endless memories, he silently pulled up the reports he had read about the incident, leafing through the pages, from the initial reports to the updates and the inevitable conclusion. The execution of the Bhodistani witch who was said to instigate the entire affair had been a public one and by all rights, that should have been the conclusion of everything, but the rest…

It was curious, but there was only one conclusion he could make: "Are you suggesting she might still be in imminent danger?" He couldn't fathom why else would Florent be recalled; the man was a decade older, but he was experienced and capable, and at this point he knew the subject extremely well.

"Hopefully she isn't," Maurice replied after a pause. "But in the event related…strangeness…does crop up again, we thought it best to ensure that the sharpest, fastest blade available from our ranks is present to meet whatever unusual challenges that would present." His smile returned. "Fortunately for us old men, we have someone we could offer."

Nicolas smirked faintly. "I doubt a blade could do much against magic and curses, should any repeat performances occur, but I'll do my best not to disappoint."

"You'll find a way." Maurice met the other Cassiline's violet stare from across the desk. "From what I heard from Vincent de Chalasse's household, you always do."

He caught the look, and with the precise incident he was referencing hinted at upon it, his hand lifted to rub the back of his neck. The smile that followed was almost hapless. "It was luck," he remarked.

"It was enterprising," the Prefect's aide-de-camp rebutted. "And I'm hoping that you'll use that cleverness to make certain that the young lady lives a full and fulfilling life within the trappings of her new destiny, after everything she has suffered."

"Yes, sir."

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